Red Bull has hailed a “dream start” to its partnership with new Formula 1 engine suppliers Honda after securing a podium finish in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. 

In its first grand prix powered by Honda following its divorce from Renault at the end of 2018, Max Verstappen turned in a strong drive to the podium, passing Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel and shadowing Lewis Hamilton’s Mercedes on his way to finishing third in Melbourne

The result sealed the Japanese power unit manufacturer’s first rostrum in F1 since Rubens Barrichello finished third in the 2008 British Grand Prix and marked Honda’s best result in the current V6 hybrid era. 

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“I think it was a great day for us to get a podium,” Horner told Sky Sports. 

“Max’s drive, his pass on Sebastian, he then put Lewis under a lot of pressure in the second half of the race. So it’s a fantastic performance - for us to get a podium first race with a new power unit is a dream start. 

“They’ve given us a great product over the winter and the engine is delivering good power, it’s been reliable. Max has been able to use that to really good effect today.”

Despite being labelled as the pre-season favourites by both Mercedes and Red Bull, Ferrari endured a poor race with Vettel and teammate Charles Leclerc finishing in a distant fourth and fifth behind Verstappen, who had split the Scuderia duo in qualifying. 

Asked if he was surprised about Ferrari’s race pace, Horner replied: “I think we’ve over performed in the race.

“We all came here expecting to be trounced by Ferrari, and Mercedes obviously were very strong yesterday but not as strong in the race as they were yesterday 

“We were more competitive in the race than I thought we were on Friday,” he added. “To put Lewis under pressure for pretty much 50% of the Grand Prix, I thought we had the quicker car than him certainly in the second half. 

“To do that, at this venue, is really encouraging for us. I think we’ve got a good basis from which to start and develop this car.” 

Verstappen said he felt he could have beaten Hamilton to second place had the race been at a circuit that allows for more overtaking opportunities. 

“Of course I’m very happy to be third here,” Verstappen said. 

“Also very happy first of all with the team but also for Honda because since we started working together it’s been amazing actually. I’m really enjoying it so it’s also well deserved for them. 

“I had a really good balance and I was just slowly pushing up to him [Vettel] and not destroying the tyres and as soon as I had the opportunity to go for it I went for it. 

“Luckily it paid off and then drove up to Lewis but in general he just had a little bit more pace than Seb. I think we were faster than him but at this track it’s just so hard to get past.”

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